Marinka Zitnik

Fusing bits and DNA

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To Embed or Not: Network Embedding as a Paradigm in Computational Biology

Current technology is producing high throughput biomedical data at an ever-growing rate. A common approach to interpreting such data is through network-based analyses. Since biological networks are notoriously complex and hard to decipher, a growing body of work applies graph embedding techniques to simplify, visualize, and facilitate the analysis of the resulting networks.

In this review, we survey traditional and new approaches for graph embedding and compare their application to fundamental problems in network biology with using the networks directly. We consider a broad variety of applications including protein network alignment, community detection, and protein function prediction. We find that in all of these domains both types of approaches are of value and their performance depends on the evaluation measures being used and the goal of the project. In particular, network embedding methods outshine direct methods according to some of those measures and are, thus, an essential tool in bioinformatics research.

This is joint work with colleagues from Stanford University, University of Toronto, Vector Institute, and Tel Aviv University.